The Sad Finale For Firetide (Unicam Acquires)

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 19, 2014

It was inevitable.

After burning through ~$50 million over the past decade, the former poster boy for wireless video surveillance, Firetide, has been acquired by a salvage specialist.

In this note, we examine what happened to Firetide, what the acquirer does and what this means for wireless video surveillance.

Unicom Global

Unicom Global, a peculiar company, acquired Firetide for an undisclosed amount of cash (though we doubt it was more than a 1/10th of what Firetide raised).

This Unicom is a privately held conglomerate and should not be confused with the Chinese multi-billion telecom giant.

They buy up lots of companies, frequently distressed and typically within IT. For example, after the US federal government suspended integrator GTSI from selling to them, Unicom bought them and made it their government division. Another deal example is US Robotics, the once powerful, but long since faded, dial up modem manufacturer.

Unicom offers little public information on their business practices or revenue but former employees explained the aftermath of acquisitions thusly:

"Shortly after being acquired our company IET Solutions saw dramatic changes forced upon us by the Unicom Management team. In an effort to improve margins we stopped developing our product, the QA organization was let go, and even the product/customer support group was terminated. The office in the US was reduced to 3 staff members."

and "Stop trying to grow by acquisition and take care of your clients. Buying distressed firms (USRobotics, GTSI, etc.) just makes things worse. The founder-president-CEO needs to stop thinking he is the smartest man in the universe, and actually listen to people who work for him."

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The upside is that the company may be good at digesting these distressed companies and making smaller scale profitable business units out of them. Unicom can and will likely cross sell Firetide to other Unicom units (such as the former GTI) while slashing Firetide's cost structure to maximize profitability.

The downside is that any dream of expansion, or even broad use of Firetide, seems unlikely.

Why Did This Happen?

No one has ever made mesh mainstream for video surveillance. The main causes were (1) too complicated to make work by non-experts, (2) too costly for products (10x+ more than PTP like Ubiquiti) and (3) too much of a niche for surveillance (only the biggest 10% or 20% really needed mesh. This is reflected in our newest 2014 wireless video surveillance favorites.

Firetide had already been facing that reality for years as the good times of raising big money had long past (the last big raise was back in 2009). Indeed, even the new CEO (from Cisco) in 2013, was evidently content or constrained to stay their more modest course.

And now they are a division of cleanup conglomerate.

 

7 reports cite this report:

Micropower Fails on May 02, 2016
Wireless video surveillance is a tough business. Micropower sought to deliver a wireless, turn-key, professional video solution. The most famous...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2016 on Mar 07, 2016
Following up on our 2014 survey for Integrator's Favorite Wireless Products, here are the new results. The top spot may not surprise you, but the...
The Next Failure in Wireless Video Surveillance: $18 Million Funding on Aug 21, 2015
Wireless video surveillance is one of the most difficult niches in the industry. Tens of millions have been wasted trying to build a wireless...
Siklu Wireless Video Surveillance Examined on May 07, 2015
Wireless video surveillance has not been an easy market over the past few years. Ubiquiti drained money out of the market by making $200 wireless...
Major Moves - Security Manufacturers 2014 / 2015 on Dec 08, 2014
This guide summarizes the biggest moves of security manufacturers in 2014 and 2015, concentrating on acquisitions, fund raising, significant stock...
Winner and Losers of the Milestone Deal on Jun 16, 2014
An industry changing event. Canon's acquisition of Milestone will impact the industry for years to come. But who fared the best and worst from...
Falling Down: The 2014 Mid-Year Guide on Jun 02, 2014
Falling down - the theme of the 2014 video surveillance industry. This is the toughest stretch for the industry overall, since at least the...
Comments (21): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Wireless

Nest Secure Alarm System Tested on Nov 16, 2017
Google's expansion continues, this time into home security with their Nest subsidiary's move into alarm systems. They paid more than a...
Selecting Access Control Readers Tutorial on Nov 09, 2017
Given the variety of types available, specifying access control readers can be a daunting process. However, focusing on a few key elements will...
Honeywell Indiegogo-Funded DIY Intrusion System Examined on Nov 02, 2017
Honeywell did $39 Billion dollars in revenue last year, but they are asking the public for $50,000 (.0001% of revenue) to fund their Indiegogo...
Avigilon Access Control 2017 Examined on Nov 01, 2017
For more than 4 years, Avigilon has been in the access control business, since their May 2013 acquisition of RedCloud. Since then, Avigilon has...
ONVIF Wire Free Camera Tested (Netgear FlexPower) on Oct 31, 2017
Totally wire-free cameras are a hot growth market. But they have had one major problem: Proprietary. IPVM has tested Netgear's Arlo and Arlo Go,...
Hikvision vs Dahua Access Shootout on Oct 26, 2017
Dahua and Hikvision have spent heavily expanding internationally in video surveillance. Now, both companies are looking to do similarly in access...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on Sep 26, 2017
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
'Clowns' Allege Ubiquiti 'Completely Fraudulent' on Sep 20, 2017
A short seller has alleged Ubiquiti is 'completely fraudulent'. Ubiquiti's CEO has responded calling them 'clowns'. Here is the short...
September IP Networking Course on Sep 14, 2017
LAST Chance - Registration is ending. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals...
FLIR Lorex Wire Free System Tested on Aug 29, 2017
Wire free video surveillance is a major trend amongst consumers. But wire free systems tend to be designed for few cameras, lower resolution and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Camera Multi-Streaming Usage on Nov 22, 2017
IP cameras typically support multiple streams, allowing a single camera to transmit multiple streams at different resolutions, frame rates and even...
Law Breaking Longse Enters USA on Nov 22, 2017
Longse has established itself as world class, at least in spamming the industry, ripping off Milestone and Video Insight as well as Hikvision. But...
Amazon Key In-Home Package Delivery Examined on Nov 21, 2017
Interesting idea or invitation for criminals to rob you? Amazon's recent announcement of Key, a service that will help manage visitors, welcoming...
Top Maglock Provider Warns Against Using Maglocks on Nov 21, 2017
Do not buy my company's product. It sounds strange indeed, but a senior Allegion consultant stated that maglocks should not be used in common...
CBR vs VBR vs MBR - Surveillance Streaming on Nov 21, 2017
How you stream video has a major impact on quality and bandwidth. And it is not simply CODEC choice (e.g., H.264 vs H.265). Regardless of the...
Hikvision Chinese Government Owner CETHIK Exposed on Nov 20, 2017
Hikvision deceives about its Chinese government ownership. Contrary to their claims about 'independence' and simply having 'shareholders' that are...
Dahua Hard-Coded Credentials Vulnerability on Nov 20, 2017
A newly discovered Dahua backdoor is described by the researcher discovering it as: not the result of an accidental logic error or poor...
Panasonic Unified Surveillance Strategy Analyzed on Nov 17, 2017
Panasonic is now a "Unified Surveillance" offering, as their ASIS 2017 booth proclaimed: Looking to make a comeback in the security industry,...
Amazon Cloud Cam Is Poor (Tested) on Nov 17, 2017
Retail behemoth Amazon has entered the surveillance market with the Amazon Cloud Cam, the eyes of its just-announced Amazon Key delivery...
Nest Secure Alarm System Tested on Nov 16, 2017
Google's expansion continues, this time into home security with their Nest subsidiary's move into alarm systems. They paid more than a...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact